Music to Your Ears – Music Bracket Finals and Top Five Albums

Here you go, it all comes down to this:  and are the two best tracks from 2017, according to our readers. Which one will come out on top? That’s up to you to decide, faithful followers!

Our final showdown of the year involves one of the lowest seeds, a rarity in brackets – but for good reason, it’s the hit single “Want You Back” from Haim. The sister trio out of California faces off against their neighbors from Nevada – The Killers, with their big return in “Run for Cover”.

Take a listen once again, to refresh your memory:

 


Now, for additional reading pleasure, are my top five albums of 2017:

5) Spoon – Hot Thoughts

As is often the case with bands you’ve loved for a decade or more, it’s difficult to continue loving each and every album they put out. It’s usually lightning in a bottle when you capture their sound for the first time, and a battle for quality in your mind spreads over their subsequent work. Spoon has generally been good for me, but their last two albums, 2010’s Transference and 2014’s They Want My Soul were lackluster to say the least. What a relief that Britt Daniel and company got back on their game with this album, a fresh funky dance groove that wants you to shake off the dust of your bad feelings. There’s nothing wrong with that, right?

What I Said Then (3/22): “I love when an album comes together like this, reminding you of all their best moments, while still imagining new adventures for the crew. This is likely my favorite album this year so far.”

4) Lorde – Melodrama

Call it a comeback, call it the break from a sophomore slump. Whatever you want, Lorde is on top of the world. Despite a recent snafu with a concert in Israel, the young New Zealand-born singer trounced naysayers by delivering a new sound to compliment her 2013 debut Pure Heroine. As the key changes in the middle of uber-hit “Green Light” you know you’re into someone’s expert handling of rhythms and vocals nearly unheard in dream pop before. Some of the deftest instrumentals came from this melodic symphony of an album, one no one seemed to realize would take the summer by storm.

What I Said Then (6/20): “With her maturity comes a sense of relevance, which allows for a fine-tunes production this time around….suffice it to say the expected sophomore slump never settles in, as Lorde expands her horizons in ways we never expected.”

3) The Orwells – Terrible Human Beings

I couldn’t stop bouncing back to this early year moodpiece, a garage-rock revival ode to living like you’ll never die – a true rock album, if we ever heard one this year. Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age and the like all did their best, but no one put as much heart into as this five-piece out of Illinois. Remind yourself of early Black Keys and Cage the Elephant with the launchpad song “They Put A Body in the Bayou” and let the rest of the album envelop you. I guarantee you’ll never stop tapping your toes. The best thing about doing this column has been discovering new bands you didn’t realize would be right up your alley – and with this album I not only gained a new group to love, but two more albums on top of this one from over the past decade. I implore you to follow me down the rabbit hole from this past year, and into the next, as we look for more bands as invigorating as The Orwells, or their newest album.

What I Said Then (3/2): “A true delight, because this Chicago band has put out one of the most effortlessly enjoyable records I’ve heard in the past few years….If you’re looking for the heir apparent to bands like The Strokes, The Arctic Monkeys or The Cribs, look no further than The Orwells – even though they’ve actually been out for half a decade already. Look them up!”

2) Kesha – Rainbow

I said a great deal back in August when Kesha’s new album debuted. I think it might be easier to go through that again, but now that it’s been a good four months to allow the album to settle into the back of my mind, revisiting it is an easier task. I fully expected this to be number one album in the months leading up to it and it made perfect sense as I listened. The only reason it doesn’t make it is because the next one is so damn inventive. I’m in love with Kesha’s sound, and I think that lends it a little bias. I was always going to like this album, so does that make it the best of the year? It stands near the top, unabashedly, for knocking down the walls of Kesha’s struggles and turning them into a bright beacon of hope for those in similar situations. She became a stalwart of living through the darkest times and coming out better than before. I’ll listen to this for years to come, and slowly but surely it will melt into her back catalogue. The party girl early years will flow effortlessly into this mature outlook on the future. I can only hope the follow-up will be as smart. For now, we’ll always have some of Kesha Sebert’s best ever work.

What I Said Then (8/16): “…showing Kesha can move on and look forward to a time where she’ll be free of the unnecessary shackles of Sony, and in the meantime she’s still her best self….It’s like she’s telling us through these songs all that she wanted to be, and there’s no doubting she can get there…..Kesha blossomed into an artist even I never expected, and if she empowers more women in the shadow of their own despair, then she’s more important than any of us ever expected.”

1) Thundercat – Drunk

I’m as suprised as you are, but Cory’s recommendation back in March had me bopping all year long to some of the wackiest lyrics sung so seriously you’d be surprised of the source. Songs about Dragonball and trips to Japan alongside lovelorn odysseys that end in indifference struck several chords with me, and I’ve heard some of his live shows are adventures in their own right. Driving cross country, this album made the time fly by faster than anything else, and instantly classic lyrics make for a fun recital when singing along with your friends. If nothing else, Thundercat can bring us together.

What I Said Then (3/2): “I must say that each track is better than the last, and by the time he waxes poetic about “Tokyo” – my favorite track on the record – you’ll be grooving along the rest of your week. The best thing I can say about this is that it’s brilliant driving music, but if you’re the type of person – like me – that loves wandering around a city or a forest trail with their own personal soundtrack driving their actions, Thundercat has it down perfectly.”


That’s it, folks. Don’t forget to vote at the top for your favorite song of the year, and I’ll post the results on Twitter and probably here with the first Music to Your Ears of 2018. Tomorrow Cory and I will be back with our top ten films of the year, and I’ll finish our retrospective off on Saturday with a compilation of the greatest television from 2017. Thanks for listening!

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